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Zeppelin Raid on Bradley

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

On the night of 31st January/1st February 1916, nine airships of the Reichskreigsmarine, the Imperial German Navy, set out from their bases on the north eastern coast of Germany to bomb targets in the Midlands and south of England.

Two of the Zeppelin's, the L21 and the L19, bombed the Black Country causing a total of thirty-five deaths. One Zeppelin dropped some of its bombs on Bradley, Bilston, killing two people.

The airship's route over England was via Narborough, King's Lynn, Grantham, Nottingham, Derby and Stafford before turning south. It reached Wolverhampton at 7.45pm.

The airship then continued on to Dudley. It appears that the airship was hopelessly lost and thought it was over Liverpool: the captain's report claims he bombed docks, harbour works and factories.

The two people killed were Maud and William Fellows. Maud was 24 and lived at 45 Daisy Street, Bradley. She worked at a butcher's shop in Bilston. William was aged 23 and lived at Castle Street, Coseley. He was employed as a stoker.

They had been walking along the canal when the noise of the Zeppelin caused them to shelter by the side of the pumping station. One of the bombs landed a few feet away, killing William instantly. Maud was taken to the 'Old Bush Inn' in Bradley Lane where she received first aid to her right side, leg and back. She never recovered from her injuries and died on 12th February of blood poisioning.

Following the attack on Bradley the Zeppelin moved on to bomb Wednesbury and Walsall before returning to its base. It arrived back at Nordhollz around 10.45pm.

There was much debate within the Borough Council's Watch (or Police) Committee about how the raid took place and what could be done to safeguard the people against future raids. The Mayor was particularly unhappy about procedures, and especially indignant that he wasn't told about the raid.

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